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El-Amin sentenced to 18 months in prison

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Photo by Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio
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Former state Representative T.D. El-Amin outside the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – A former state Representative from north St. Louis will spend 18 months in federal prison for accepting bribes from a business owner in his district.

"I don't know why you did what you did," U.S. District Judge Henry Autry told former state Representative T.D. El-Amin before handing down the sentence. "It's absurd. You stomped on the Constitution that gave you your job, and spit in the face of the people who elected you for a few dollars."

El-Amin pleaded guilty in September to taking $2,100 from a gas station owner who needed help dealing with city officials, including a department head later identified as Public Safety director Charles Bryson. The owner, who was not identified, was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and it's not clear if El-Amin ever intended to help the owner.

Outside the courthouse, El-Amin would not explain why he asked for the money, calling it irrelevant.

"The bigger message is to not break the law. When you break the law and you break the rules, you pay consequences," he said.

El-Amin is the third Democratic politician to face federal corruption charges in the last year. Former State Senator Jeff Smith reported to prison on Monday for lying to federal agents investigating campaign finance charges. Former state Representative Steve Brown received probation in that case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith, the prosecutor in all three cases, said the prosecutions and convictions are bringing change.

"I think you can look at what's happening in Jefferson City," he said. "They started the session today, and on the books are many more ethics rules, ethics laws that they hope to pass.

Goldsmith would not comment on other ongoing investigations, but says public corruption remains a top priority of his office and the FBI

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